Singing and Dancing: Kayla Cieslinski, from left, Brandon Hedgepeth and Jenny Collins practice a number from their upcoming performance of “The 1940s Radio Hour” at the Elk’s Lodge on Wednesday. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie)
Singing and Dancing: Kayla Cieslinski, from left, Brandon Hedgepeth and Jenny Collins practice a number from their upcoming performance of “The 1940s Radio Hour” at the Elk’s Lodge on Wednesday. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie)
Madison Community Players plan to take theatergoers back to the days of the live radio show during an upcoming dinner theater production.

"The 1940s Radio Hour" by Walton Jones celebrates the holiday seasons of World War II when many military service men and women were away from families for Christmas. The production shows how one live radio broadcast helped to send a message of holiday cheer to family and friends throughout the world, play director Stephanie Hellmann said.

"There's singing. There's dancing. There's everything," Hellmann said.

The production takes place a few days before Christmas on Dec. 21, 1942. Viewers get a behind-the-scenes look at what exactly went on with a live radio audience, from dealing with minor issues throughout the show to the radio acts' desire to change clothes during commercials.

"It's just fun," Hellmann said. "You get to see the relationships in the (radio) company."

The Madison Community Players chose to do a musical after several people had mentioned the idea throughout the years.

"People have been saying for forever that we should do a musical," Hellmann said.

Yet this isn't the first time "The 1940s Radio Show" has been performed in Madison. In fact, the first performance was held at the former Elks Lodge on West Street in 1983. The upcoming performance will be held at the current Elks Lodge, 1251 W. Main St.

Hellmann said the dinner show features a much larger cast than usual. The October auditions went well and many new faces joined the theater group for the upcoming production, along with the return of a few actors who have participated in previous shows.

"It's just so exciting," she said. "There's so much talent."

Cast members for "The 1940s Radio Hour" include: Dan Hellmann, Chris Wheeler, Dakota Phillips, Jan Bixler, Aaron Grubbs, Jenny Collins, Kayla Cieslinski, Brandon Hedgepeth, Gary Burdette, Kristen Clevenger, Donna Perry and Nicole LeGrand. Hellmann serves as the director of the production. Kelley Hoagland serves as the assistant director.

"Most of these people are new to our group," Hellmann said of the cast. "We're just thrilled to have new people come in."

Tickets are $25 per person and are available at the Elks Lodge and Nice Shots! Photography, 131 E. Main St. Advance tickets are required for the performances.

The dinner show will be Friday and Saturday with doors opening at 6 p.m. Seating for the show is not reserved and tables may be chosen on a first come, first served basis.

Dinner begins at 6:30 p.m., and the show is expected to start around 7:15 p.m. The play should last about two hours, she said.